Monday, March 31, 2008

Recap: The Good, the bad and the ugly

Wow, I've just been MIA for a few days now, haven't I? Well, as the title of this post suggests, the past several days have been full of some good stuff, some bad stuff and some all-around seriously ugly stuff.

Let's start with Thursday. I got to leave work at the very reasonable hour of 6:20 p.m., as I had to meet Wilson at MSG by 7:00 for the Rangers/Devils Game (if only I could leave work that early every night . . . sigh). The game was a lot of fun, and we got to consume hot dogs and beer--which always makes for a very happy Irish Cream. The Rangers even managed to pull off the victory, leading to the very childish (but very gratifying) chant of "You can't beat us!" as the last minute or so of play wound down.

Friday was a pretty busy day for me at work (this sick trend has been popping up all over the place as of late, and really should just go away). I left at the almost reasonable hour of 7:30 p.m., but was feeling ridiculously sluggish at the time. I also needed to stop by Target to pick up a gift for a baby shower that was taking place on Saturday. This led to . . . well, probably not what you're thinking. Nope. Instead of skipping my run and taking care of my shopping needs, I headed to the gym and changed into my running clothes. I then proceeded to get on the 'mill and run the first 2 of my 3.5 miles on a killer hill setting. Now you may be asking, "But Irish Cream, why did you do that if you were feeling so sluggish and tired? Don't you know hills make you MORE tired?" Yeah, who knows. In my defense, I did the entire run at a 9:40/mile pace . . . so I did kind of take it kind of easy pace-wise. But seriously, I just don't know what was up with the hill setting? I must have momentarily lost my mind or something. Maybe it's mad cow disease? Anyway, after my run, I decided to be even more of a nut and do a routine that will from here on out be known as "nuclear abs." Oy. It involved medicine balls and swiss balls . . . and it was just not very pretty, my friends. By the time I finished up, it was far too late to get make it to Target, so I simply took the subway home, praying all the while that I wouldn't resort to cannibalism and eat someone on the train (I was SERIOUSLY famished).

Saturday was an interesting day, to say the least. Wilson and I didn't get out of bed until LATE . . . I think it was after 11:00 a.m. (gasp!) We had been thinking about getting up early-ish and walking the 6 miles to Target and back (with the hope of avoiding the crowds and getting some nice cross-training in) . . . but sadly, this just didn't happen. We instead were forced to stop in on our way to the baby shower--at 3 p.m.--on a SATURDAY. Needless to say, IT WAS HELL (and yes--I did, in fact, drag my boyfriend to the baby shower--I know, I'm horrible). We made it in and out of Target without getting TOO violent, threw the gift together, and walked the mile or so to my friend Joni's place in Park Slope. We were there long enough to check out her new fab apartment (it is GORGEOUS), eat some delicious hors d'oeuvres and complain a lot about work (Joni's a co-worker). I, of course, gave my oh-so-helpful suggestions for what to name the baby ("Boomer"), then Wilson and I set off to find a fun place to eat dinner. We decided on the "Brooklyn Burger Bar" just down the street from Joni's. Wilson and I both had New Zealand lamb burgers, which were delicious . . . but the service was definitely a little lackluster (for some reason, there was just a ton of confusion over which orders were to be delivered to which table). Still, it was nice to actually get to have a dinner out. I know this sounds ridiculous, considering we live in NYC, but Wilson and I rarely eat out. We both like cooking, and we're also both cheap-asses. But I have to admit, it was seriously nice to not have to clean up after our meal! Instead, we set out on the beautiful walk back across Prospect Park--and thus, back into our own "'hood" (have I complained yet about how I live in the ghetto? No? 'Cuz I do).

Sunday, I woke up with the most ridiculous ab pain you could possibly imagine. It seriously felt like a bomb had gone off in my upper abdominal region (hello, nuclear abs!). I kind of thought I was going to die. It was BRUTAL. Wilson spontaneously decided to do some spring cleaning, and while I wasn't feeling so hot thanks to said ab situation, I decided that I wanted to play too! It was seriously tiring (and probably not the best thing to do right before a long run), but it felt really nice to be a little less cluttered! Eventually, though, it came time for our long runs. UGH. I have to admit; I was NOT looking forward to this week's long run. I guess my confidence has just been shaken a bit by my failures at long runs over the past two weeks (if you consider running the mileage called for by the Beginner's schedule a "failure"--which apparently I do).

Some weird things to note about yesterday's long run . . . 1) I spotted the first ice cream truck of the season, parked right outside of the park (despite the fact that it was only like 40 degrees out, the truck was definitely getting some business!); 2) the damn water fountains in the park STILL have yet to be turned back on--please, can this happen soon?; 3) some asshole tried to steal from me. As a result of the no water fountains issue, I'd brought a water bottle with an attached pocket thingy, which I generally put a gel or two into. Well, not wanting to carry the bottle with me, I tossed it down on the side of the road during my first loop--and when I came back around to it, the pocket was unzipped and my gel had been tossed aside, as though the person was rummaging through the pocket, looking for money. Ha, to tell you the truth, it kind of made me really happy to know that some idiot had to suffer the disappointment of discovering that I am not dumb, and do not leave valuable items in the little pocket attached to my water bottle, which I just carelessly toss to the side of the road every time I run. TAKE THAT! HA! Jerks.

Shockingly enough, though, I actually felt pretty darn good during the run. Wilson had 5 miles scheduled, and after we finished up with 5, I was seriously shocked to hear myself utter the words, "I'm going to run another 2 miles, since the Intermediate schedule calls for 7 this week." I took a second, kind of looked around, trying to figure out why I had just said that, and then figured I might as well go with it. Wilson took off in the direction of home and I ran a small loop to finish up my full 7. While doing so, I ran into my old buddy, Robert, on his bike (I swear to goodness, this man knows EVERYONE in the park--it's incredible) . . . and he rode with me, while I shared with him the story of my rocky first marathon. He had only kind words for me--per usual--and he threw in his usual dose of peer pressure, trying to talk me into getting myself a bike. Ha. (Because apparently it's a really good idea for people who have trouble not falling down when WALKING to ride bikes at high speeds. Riiiiight!)

I finished up my run in 1:10:35 (10:05/mile pace--aka SLOOOOW), and on my walk home from the park suddenly realized that my lungs felt like ABSOLUTE crap. It was seriously gross. It was like there was all this gross fluid down in there or something. I kept trying to cough it up, but apparently it's really difficult to cough when you are suffering from post-nuclear-abs-stress-disorder. And was I ever. I managed to make it the four blocks back to my apartment from the park without dying, and immediately thereafter threw myself on the couch and pulled a big, fluffy blanket over me (oh wait, could I possibly have forgotten to complain about the fact that my apartment in the ghetto has no heat? Yeah, true story). I was just sitting there, coughing like a crazy person, trying to get the crap out of my lungs--but it just wasn't working. I thought I was going to choke to death! As I was FREEZING cold (and still in my wet running clothes), I finally mustered up enough strength to shower up, change into some comfy sweats, and (of course) plant myself back on the couch.

Sadly, Wilson had other plans for me. He decided that we needed to go to the grocery store. So we went. And I complained the ENTIRE time, because I honestly don't think I have ever felt as defeated and exhausted as I did right there in that grocery store. I was exhausted to the point where I wasn't sure whether I could keep breathing--because it was just "too much work." Bizarro. I kept slumping over and leaning on the cart, seriously feeling like I was going to collapse. I even contemplated just sitting down on the floor for a while. It was awful. We finally ended our lovely outing when poor Wilson tried to ask me something about ice cream flavors and I just screamed, "I don't care! Can we please just go?!" Yeah. It wasn't pretty. I made it home, and planted myself on the couch for the rest of the night, with absolutely no intention whatsoever of moving ever again.

Today, I'm feeling ever so slightly better, but my lungs still feel like complete crap. I'm praying this goes away soon, but I'm thinking that coughing crap up probably isn't the best sign ever. Boo. Well, at any rate, it's a rest day for this chick, as I'm heading back to MSG for ANOTHER Ranger's game (and more hot dogs and beer--yum) tonight! Until next time . . .

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Too much junk in the trunk

Do you ever have one of those days where you confidently leave home, seriously impressed with your ability to dress yourself; but then when you get to work, you discover that you actually look . . . like one big fashion faux pas? No? Oh, that must mean either a) you employ a personal stylist, or b) you actually popped the $9.99 for a full length mirror (unlike me). Well, as a result of my lack of sufficient mirror-age, I definitely DO have those days . . . and today was one of them.

Now, I'm not going to lie to you . . . I have not exactly been blessed with a "runner's physique." Instead, I am what some might call "curvy." I am loaded in the behind and chest-al regions, if you will. Well, today, I was sporting this cute black jersey dress I LOVE, and some fierce zig zag patterned sheer black nylons. It looked nice, I thought, but I realized I might be jumping the gun a bit in wearing a sleeveless dress so soon (seriously, I'm sick of Spring sleeping on the job--will someone please wake her ass up?) . . . thus, I grabbed a cute orange cardigan to throw on over my dress. I checked myself out in the bedroom mirror (which only reveals about chest-level, up), decided I looked seriously cute, and left for work.

Well, imagine my shock when, on my first potty break at work, I took a look in the full-length mirror there and discovered that my ass looked like it was pregnant! UGH. Yeah. Okay, fellas--I know you have been desensitized to this subject by a few too many twiggy girls who've complained about their butts being huge, but you've got to believe me here; this is absurd. I seriously look like the hunch-ass of Notre Dame. It must be where the sweater is hitting me or something--Tim Gunn would be totally disgusted! I generally embrace and love my juicy booty, but this is almost obscene. I wish I had a camera with me so I could prove it you.

So now I have been cemented to my chair all day long, praying that nobody asks me to move, for fear that I'll get "a talking to" about what is and isn't appropriate to wear to a law office. Oy. Sometimes life is too funny!

Speaking of which, I leave you today with this picture I randomly found by image-googling "cute" (what can I say, it's been a slow day . . . ) Have I mentioned how much I love cake? Oh my gosh, I don't think I have. Well I do love cake. Very much. I also think I might secretly be distantly related to this panda bear:

Speed training = fun?

Who'da thunk I'd ever be saying that? Not me, that's for sure! When I was probably ten years old, my parents started forcing my sister, Mo, and me to go to track camp during the summer. I guess they thought we were slow or something, and were under the impression it would make us better soccer players (seriously, kids athletics these days--kind of scary, no?). When other kids were sleeping in and going to the pool, we were forced to attend hell--er uh--track camp. We absolutely dreaded it. I'm pretty sure there were times when we'd throw fits about not wanting to go. I'm also sure that we probably came up with approximately 6,734 different plans that we hoped would enable us to escape from said hell camp. Sadly, none of them worked. Thus, we were forced to go to camp day in and day out, and--gasp--work on our speed.

Well, my friends, yesterday I made my first attempt at speed training since my track camp days. And . . . I actually enjoyed it! I had 6 x 400 on the sched, and while I went into the workout assuming I'd H-A-T-E it, I didn't! Instead, I rocked it! I warmed up for a mile, then I did my repeats at an 8:00/mile pace (5K pace). Except, when I got to the last one, I decided to try running at a 7:30/mile pace to see if it would kill me. IT DID NOT! I kicked that last 400's B-U-T-T! I was seriously surprised to discover that it actually wasn't even that taxing. Granted, it was just a 400--I'm not sure I could hold that pace for 5K, but still--I'm pretty happy with my performance. I felt like a stud . . . especially because magazine-reading 2 mph girl was on the treadmill next to me. I made a point of dripping some sweat over onto her 'mill, to make up for the fact that she wasn't producing any.

As for the rest of the week . . . Monday, I took a much-needed rest day. All that was on the schedule was stretch & strength, and I decided to skip any type of strength training this week--in an effort to let my poor body rest a little bit. Tuesday was a 3-miler at a slower 10:00/mile pace (I was seriously sluggish). I'm supposed to be running a 3.5-miler today, but am instead going to the Rangers game tonight (YES!). At the game, I will get to consume two of my very favorite things--beer and hot dogs (how nutritious of me!). Thus, I'll be doing the 3.5-miler manana.

Well, that's all I've got for now . . . have a good one!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

LA Marathon: The "After" photos, AKA "What the heck am I staring at?"

Being stuck in this jam of people at the finish really made me want to use physical violence and scream a lot. Luckily, I was too damn tired.

Ah, yes. Finally a nice patch of grass to rest my bum on--and to think, I only had to run 26.2 miles, fight my way thru a crowd of several million people, and then climb a massive hill to get there.

Papa Irish: "Are you okay, Irish?"

Irish Cream: "Huh? Where am I?"

Papa Irish: "Let's try to smile for the camera. Okay, Irish?"

Irish Cream: "Okay, yeah."

Papa Irish: "Um, that's almost good. But you're actually looking in the wrong direction."

Papa Irish: "Let's try this again."

Irish Cream (hanging her head in shame): "I give up. This is just way too confusing. I need a cheeseburger."

Monday, March 24, 2008

In honor of Lam's victory over commitophobia . . .

Congratulations -- you've just registered for the Sunburst Races. The date is Saturday, May 31, 2008, with the Friday Night Family Walk on May 30. Please be sure to check our site at as race day approaches for important announcements including start times. If you have questions, please write to us at

Good luck with your training.
Molly Sullivan Race Director

And for anybody else running the races at Sunburst: FYI, the registration fee goes up after 3/30! SIGN UP NOW and save yourself some mula (and then buy me a beer and/or cheeseburger with that extra mula, since I was kind enough to remind you!) :)

EDIT: Um, oops . . . didn't mean to be so mysterious there! I kind of forgot to mention that it was the HALF-MARATHON race that I signed up for. I figured I can always drop down to the 10K if I don't feel ready (ha, like THAT would ever happen). So yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Why oh why did my basketball team have to end their season in such a humiliating way? Didn't I suffer enough last football season?!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why I hate cats.

Need I say more?

LA/Marathon Photos

Our hotel from the outside. Looks nice, right? Nice enough to pay $42 a day for parking? Um, definitely not. Luckily, my room had mold growing in it, so I made up a story about how I have a serious mold allergy and the moldy room had destroyed my marathon dreams . . . I think I deserve an Oscar for my poignant performance! While this is unlikely to happen, I did get my $210 worth of parking back. It was a small victory.

View from the hotel room. I was shocked to learn that there are actually MOUNTAINS behind all that smog! I thought people were just making that up!

Brent, Jonny and I: "Before." As you'll soon learn, there is no "After" shot. This probably has something to do with the fact that I took approximately six decades longer than planned to finish the stupid marathon.

We never figured out whether these people actually ran . . . if so, I'm really impressed with their abilities to run 26.2 in dockers (the cigs were fake; don't be fooled).

Elvis. And Elvis. That's definitely a Miller Lite in his hand.

On course entertainment. Also known as the cutest. kids. ever.

I was right behind them, I swear. Okay, I'm lying again. In fact, I was so far behind them, that Wilson's camera battery probably died before I got to him, thus explaining the lack of Wilson-cam photos of Irish Cream in action.

These folks are so fast, it's actually impossible to get an in-focus photo of them. I only hope that someday, after years and years of training, I will be able to sprint as fast as they can jog backwards.

My favorite two year-old on the planet--my niece, Iris. And yes, I do believe Mr. Sharky is making a phone call. He's probably trying to get in contact with his poor, unfotunate pal who is trapped inside the snow globe.

I agree that this is one of the creepiest toddler photos of all time (seriously, what sicko thought this ride would be a good idea?!). But Iris seems to be having a good time . . . so I guess that's all that matters?

View from the Santa Monica Pier.

More views from Santa Monica Pier.

This month in pictures

Now that we're caught up story-wise, I figured I've got some catching up to do with photos. I'm still waiting on the post-marathon photos from Mal (I hope your computer's doing better, M!), but I'm going to go ahead and post some others to enjoy in the meantime. Enjoy!

Friday, March 21, 2008

You asked for it! (Actually, no you didn't . . . but too bad. Read it.)

As promised, here it is. Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present to you “Irish Cream, the Prequel!” Brace yourselves—it’s going to be a LONG and crazy ride (and by “crazy,” I actually mean “boring to the point of sedation”).

Let’s start way back at the beginning. I alluded to this in an earlier post, but I was really into sports while growing up. As my mother so eloquently stated in her pre-marathon pep talk, I have always been what you would call “athletic.” Now I was never CRAZY athletic, but I was athletic enough that my heart and verging-on-masochistic work ethic always managed to make up the difference. Thus, I was always competitive with the CRAZY athletic kids. I’ve played soccer since about the time I could walk. I also was pretty serious about basketball during my middle school and high school years. I always wanted to give tennis, volleyball and track & field a try, but apparently there isn’t enough time in the day when you’re on a competitive soccer team (sigh)!

When my senior year of high school rolled around, I decided to give yet another sport a try. A few of my close friends were members of the cross-country team and, after three years of attempting to lure me into their crazy world, they finally made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Kidding, kidding. When it came down to it, I just couldn’t fathom how a sport that involved nothing more than running could possibly be as fun as they claimed it to be! I decided to find out for myself. Now, by this point in time, I had already decided I would be turning down college soccer scholarship offers, and would instead be choosing a school based on academics alone (my dream had always been to attend the University of Notre Dame). Thus, I was far less focused on club soccer and much more focused on enjoying my last year of high school. Besides, at the very least, I figured cross country would be a great way to stay in shape.

I must admit, those girls were seriously onto something! Joining the cross country team was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I had so much fun. The cross girls (CC-Ya!) were just so different. Sure, they were competitive . . . but they were competitive with themselves; not each other. We would celebrate every time a runner set a new PR, whether it was our fastest runner or the slowest. By nature, it was less of a team sport than any sport I had ever played, and yet . . . somehow . . . it was the most cohesive team I’d ever been a part of. There were no politics involved. We just went out and ran to the best of our abilities, and whole-heartedly cheered one another on in the process. This team, and specifically our wonderful coaches, truly awoke in me a love for the sport of running and the community surrounding it.

Throughout college, I remained pretty active. My BP girls and I frequented the gym (oh, Rolfs!) quite often, I played on teams in multiple co-recreational soccer leagues and I even joined the women’s boxing team for about a year. Granted, a big part of the motivation for my active lifestyle was the fact that I had to cancel out the effects of all of the pizza and booze I consumed (sorry, Mom!). But still, the one thing I could always count on to clear my head was a nice run around the beautiful lakes on Notre Dame’s campus. It was during my college years that I first began to consider the idea of training for a marathon.

Now, I didn't really understand anything about the mystique of marathoning at the time. My father had run the Chicago Marathon when I was young, and I'd noticed that his accomplishment seemed to forever be a part of him, despite the fact that a good 20 years had passed. I truly respected his accomplishment, and I just felt a strange urge to do it myself! At the time, it seemed like the longest of all long shots to me. I can remember printing out Hal’s Beginner training schedule and attempting a “test run” of it. I had no specific marathon in mind. In fact, what I was doing couldn’t really have been called “training” at all. I was “phantom training,” I guess. I simply wanted to see how long I could stick to the schedule and thereby gauge my chances of someday finishing the schedule (and a marathon). I made it about four weeks in before my knees started aching and I decided that marathons just weren’t for me. I had some pretty bad joints (thanks, genetics!) and I figured I simply wasn’t built to run marathons! It was an easy out. I continued to run, but did so for its therapeutic effects more than anything.

Jump ahead to the summer of 2004. I graduated from college and promptly up-and-moved to NYC to pursue a career in the film biz. As a production/art assistant, I didn’t have much free time to dedicate to past loves such as running and working out (15-20 hour work days tend to make you want to just sleep a lot). Luckily, the nature of my job more than made up for my lack of extracurricular physical activity. At work, I lugged heavy equipment from place to place. I was on my feet ALL. DAY. LONG. I loaded and unloaded trucks (at least) twice a day. Often times, I had to walk/jog/sprint from point A to point B to save time and money (not to mention undue stress on our lovely actors and actresses—we wouldn’t want that, now would we?! yay, sarcasm!). It was an active job, to say the least. I remained in the film industry for just under two years before deciding to call it quits. I was sick of the long hours and crappy pay, and realized that I just wasn’t passionate enough to put up with the BS inherent to the industry. Do I regret my time in film? NOT. AT. ALL. I have some incredible stories (note to self: write said incredible stories down before you get old and forget them!). I got to know the five boroughs of NYC (yes, even Staten Island) better than most New Yorkers ever will. I can parallel park a cube truck (this comes in handy quite often; let me tell you). I got to work with (and socialize with) some pretty talented actors—Robert Downey, Jr.; Robin Wright Penn; Billy Bob Thornton; Shia Labeouf and Jared Leto, to name a handful. I learned some amazing lessons in my two years, including what it means to truly bust you’re A$$. I also made some really unforgettable friends. But in the end, I think I made the decision to leave at the right time.

Moving on from the film biz, I decided to take a temp job as a litigation legal assistant at the law firm of White & Case. I had been contemplating the idea of law school for a while, and figured taking a job at a NYC “big law” firm would help me decide whether or not I wanted to pursue a J.D. Well, let me tell you, transitioning from an active job in the film industry to a desk job was quite a shocker to my body! I gained 15- 20 pounds in just the six months I was at White & Case (GROSS). In October '06, I received word that a handful of the attorneys I was working with had decided to jump ship. One of the partners would be heading over to a firm called Linklaters, and would be bringing the Enron litigation I was working on with him. As luck (or . . . not luck) would have it, the attorneys on the matter wanted to bring a couple of the legal assistants who were familiar with the cases over to the new firm. Although I’d only been at White & Case for six months, they asked if I’d come over with them. Not knowing any better, I said yes (insert over-dramatized declaration of self-pity here)!

Luckily, though, with this new firm came full-time status . . . and benefits! That’s right, folks. For the first time since graduating from college, I would actually be covered by health insurance. I was pretty pumped. One of the other benefits I was very anxious to make use of was that of a corporate gym membership (bye bye, blubber!). I opted to sign up with a gym called Gravity, in the basement of Le Parker Meridien (I have to put a plug in for my gym here . . . everyone there is sooo nice, everything’s really clean and I almost never have to wait for a machine! Oh, and the complimentary fresh fruit/tea/coffee is great too! YAY, GRAVITY!). It was around this time, that the “m word” managed to creep its way back into my mind. Geez, why wouldn't that word go away? I wasn’t sure . . . but one thing I was sure of was that I needed to get back into shape ASAP! I was in seriously awful shape! I started off with the elliptical and some weights, and managed to shed a few pounds. I really dedicated myself to getting back on the gym-wagon (I thought I had made that word up, but I just googled it and found like 238 other "fitness" bloggers who have used it—I’m totally hip!), and by the spring of ’07, I was in decent enough shape that I was ready to test out my running legs again. I can remember the first time I stepped foot back on that dreaded treadmill. I forced myself to run 2 miles at about a 10:45/mile pace, and it was absolutely excruciating. I honestly thought I was going to vomit my lungs up (isn't that pretty to picture?). Despite the fact that I was in pretty good shape overall, I just wasn’t in running shape. Yet.

I kept at it. Everyday I would try to run just a little bit further than I had the day before. I got sick of the dreadmill, so I started running outside in Prospect Park. The beautiful scenery provided a welcome distraction. I started shedding more pounds and soon realized that running was actually getting easier. My friend, AP, helped me to come up with a running goal. She mentioned that she was going to be running the marathon at the Sunburst Races (in South Bend/Notre Dame, IN) in June. I decided I’d sign up for the 10K there. I also made a specific time goal for myself of finishing in under an hour. Could I do it? YES. I was confident that, with hard work, I’d earn the privilege of meeting my goal time. Knowing I’d have to work late most nights, I forced myself to get my runs done in the mornings. I’d be out the door by 6 a.m. almost every weekday. I ran hills. I ran sprints. I trained my little butt off.

The night before the 10K, I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t sleep a wink. I was just so excited to be able to say that I was officially a runner again (I was also scared to death that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my 60 year-old father who was running with me, and had trained entirely on the treadmill—but that’s another story!). Luckily, the race went well. My father and I started out together and ran about the first 4 miles together. We made a point of not going out too fast (okay, I know it was only 10K, but still, it made us feel smart!). We talked to the other runners around us and smiled quite a bit. After mile-4, I somehow managed to lose my old man at a water stop. I don’t remember exactly what happened. I think we failed to communicate properly, as he stopped at the water stop and I continued on. The next thing I knew, he was nowhere to be found. It was shortly after this point that we hit a huge uphill climb. As I made the climb, I was shocked to realize that I was actually passing people (what's up, hill training?)! Once we got to what we thought was the top of the hill, it turned out there was a hidden corkscrew turn that continued even further uphill. Most of the people around me audibly groaned or dropped their heads, but I just kept on booking it up that hill! This was probably my favorite part of the entire race (besides the finish, of course). Shortly thereafter, though, we got slowed down big time, when an emergency vehicle tried to get up the riverside path we were on, to a runner who’d gone down. We were forced to run in a single file line to let the vehicle pass, and it slowed the field down considerably. I was obviously eager to get moving, but I also understood that the runner down was far more important than my time. So I just went with the flow. Around mile-5, I can remember wishing my father was still with me. I was just SO hot and tired, and frankly, I was more than ready to be done running! Luckily, Notre Dame’s campus came into view, and it gave me the boost of energy I needed. The end was near! We made our way onto campus and along the side of the football stadium. We ran to the north end of the stadium and then ran through the tunnel the team runs through at the start of the games. The Victory March was playing in the tunnel, and it was truly a magical moment for me. I was about to finish my first road race ever in the stadium of my alma mater! We made our way onto the field and up to the 50 yard line. I put in a pretty decent kick . . . and just like that, it was over!

I wandered around the finish area for a bit, hoping I would get to see my pops finish. There were plenty of awesome volunteers handing out cold washcloths and popsicles (yay, thank you, volunteers!). But where on earth was my farther? I waited anxiously for him to come across the line . . . and I waited . . . and I waited. I started to get really nervous. Was he okay? Did something happen? Finally, after probably ten minutes, he came walking up to me, cool as a cucumber. Apparently he’d finished just a few minutes after me, but I’d somehow missed him as he came through the crowd. It wasn’t until I saw my father that I realized I had absolutely no clue what my time was! In all the excitement of crossing the finish line, I’d forgotten to look up at the clock to see what the time was (I also wasn’t wearing a watch—good one, newbie!). I knew I was very close to my goal time of sub-60, but had no idea whether I’d actually met it! My father mentioned that, according to his watch (which should have been around chip time), he’d finished around 1:02, so he was thinking I’d definitely met my goal. I was PUMPED! We got some food and drink, hung out on the field, and waited for my mom to finish up with the fun walk. My mom and (shockingly) my sister and her g/f finished up with the fun walk (we didn’t think my sis would get out of bed in time to make it to the fun walk! I thank Anne for getting her there on time!). Then, my fam and I waited for AC , AP, and AP’s bro & sis-in-law to finish up with the marathon. What rockstars! They all did a wonderful job and finished in some seriously hot conditions! Once they’d all crossed the finish line, we hung out some more down on the field. In. Notre. Dame. Stadium. It was seriously awesome. My fam, some of my best friends and I. On the football field. Each having just run great races. It was a sweet combo, to say the least! It wasn’t until we left the stadium to head in the direction of some real food (and beers, obviously) that I realized the cold, hard truth. I’d missed my goal by 47 seconds! They’d posted the official times for the races at the exit, and I could hardly believe my eyes. 1:00:46. Unreal. My father and I had both been convinced I’d nailed it. But alas, ‘twas not so. I bummed over it for a minute, but then remembered the fact that we’d been slowed down by the emergency vehicles between miles 4-5. That thought made me feel slightly better, but still, I wanted to prove my stuff to the racing world (and more importantly, myself)! I figured I would just have to keep racing and get myself some new PR’s!

So after race numero uno, I began running more and more miles . . . and weight training . . . and cross training on the side. I was having a blast, while getting into the best shape of my life. Shortly after my 10K adventure, I decided the time had finally come to try my legs out at the great sport of marathoning. I set my sights on Honolulu in December of the same year (why not get a sweet vacation out of your marathon, right?) But first, I wanted to run a 5K that was being held in late June on the boardwalk at Coney Island (could a course possibly be any flatter? And besides, they promised free hotdogs and beer afterwards—can we say SOLD?!). Wilson and I trained for it together and were all set to go . . . that is, until disaster struck the Friday evening before the race . . .

I was participating in a firm indoor soccer tournament, and let me tell you, my team was kicking some serious A$$ (not that I’m competitive or anything). We made it to the championship game, and with just over two minutes to go, I turned to chase down a player on the other team, and felt a pop in the back of my left leg. OH. CRAP. WHAT THE F*** WAS THAT?! I tried to put weight on it. It was pretty much impossible. OUCH. OUCH. OUCH. NOT GOOD. I looked up at the clock. There was so little time left, maybe I could just like hang out on the field for the rest of the game? I mean, the teams were made so that we didn’t have any substitutes . . . what was my team supposed to do if I went out of the game? So I hung out back by the goal, hoping the pain would just go away. Then a teammate attempted to pass the ball back to me. I planted my (bad) left leg to send it up the field and felt THE. WORST. PAIN. EVER. In my left hamstring. Uh oh. There was just no way I could continue on. I went down, and for some reason, nobody even seemed to notice I was down for almost a full minute! Finally, the referee stopped the game and I was given “medical attention.” Ha. This amounted to some co-workers who were in the know about athletic injuries being like, “did it pop?” “Um, yeah. I think so.” “Oh, sh*t. I think we’d better call an ambulance.” I then proceeded to scream, “But what about my marathon? Can I still run my marathon? I have to run a marathon!” for the next twenty minutes—like a crazy person—until the ambulance arrived (it was totally not overly-dramatic at all . . . especially considering the fact that I hadn’t even STARTED training for the marathon yet or registered, made accommodations, etc.).

The not-so-pleasant verdict? As I figured, I’d torn my poor hammy. But hey, at least my soccer team got to sub someone “of equal or lesser value” into the game for me . . . and the coolest part about that? My sub, Matt, ended up scoring the winning goal for my team with like 20 seconds to go!! Everything happens for a reason, right? Ha. Needless to say, I didn’t end up getting to participate in the Coney Island 5K that weekend (although I did consider racing on my crutches—I figured there’d be at least a couple people I could smoke)! I went and cheered Wilson on and took lots of photos. But there was no running in the cards for Irish Cream that weekend. I was prescribed 12 weeks of physical therapy (which I never actually went to, since my insurance company was being a serious b*tch about it—being as stubborn as I am about paying for crap I shouldn't have to pay for—I finally just gave up on the thought of getting actual PT, and resigned myself to internet researched self-healing). When the time came for marathon training to start (about eight weeks later), I gave it my best shot, but within two weeks of training, realized it was seriously stupid to force my leg through marathon training in its fragile state. It still felt seriously abnormal and unhealthy—like it would snap at any second. Thus, I filed away my training schedule and resolved to run my first marathon in the spring instead. Specifically, I set my sights on the marathon at the Sunburst Races. Until then, I decided to focus on trying to heal my leg up and attempting to slowly build my seriously lacking mileage.

At some point in late October '07 (4 months post- injury), I finally felt like I was pretty much almost back to my pre-injury self. My hammy generally felt relatively normal and I was back in pretty decent running shape. I was even back to doing some light leg presses in the gym. I headed out to the NYC Marathon in early November and made a point of cheering on every single runner. Secretly, though, I was beyond devastated that I wouldn’t be completing my first marathon the following month. While I was originally really pumped about the idea of doing my first ‘thon at Sunburst, seeing those marathoners out there doing their thang made me more than a little bit antsy!

Luckily, in jumped AP, willing and able to feed my impatience! She mentioned that she was thinking about running the L.A. Marathon in early March, and that our friends Jonny and Brent would be running it as well. When she asked if I’d be interested, I immediately pulled out my copy of Hal’s Beginner Marathon training schedule and scribbled in the relevant dates . . . I was three weeks behind, but I felt like I was in good enough shape to catch back up. I wrote AP back that same day and said, “I’ll do it!”

And, as they say . . . the rest is history! Or well, I guess I COULD talk a little about my training period. What's one more paragraph at this point? Training was pretty uneventful, for the most part. Because my "9:30-5:30" job is actually more like "9:30-9/10/11:00," my life pretty much consisted of working, running, eating and sleeping. My weekday runs were done on the treadmill--most of the time--shortly before my gym closed. As Lam mentioned after my last post, running/working out that late at night is kind of hard to do . . . and it was. But not as hard as I thought it would be, to be quite honest. I guess, that's how I know I really love running. There's no way I'd do it so late at night after a hard day of work if I didn't truly love it! My long runs were completed solo (which was definitely, at times, pretty lonesome), outside in the NYC cold. Luckily, I'm from Chicago, so the NYC "cold" really doesn't seem quite so cold to me (although, don't get me wrong--that doesn't stop me from complaining about it!). Plus, I have to admit that I just really lucked out weather-wise. I didn't have to deal with many ice- or snow-covered roads during my 15 weeks of training. I didn't have any big problems with injuries or illness either. The only issues I had were with some exhaustion during the fall-back weeks following my 18- and 20-milers. Both times, I ended up having to cut my long runs short due to some serious fatigue (like, to the point of thinking I was going to collapse). I guess my insane schedule finally started catching up with me somewhere near the end there. I suppose that may have had some effect on my marathon performance as well. Who knows. In the end, AP obviously ended up having to back out, as I’m sure you figured out based on the lack of her name in my race report. But she and AC were definitely there with us in spirit! I’m sure there will be plenty of marathons for us to run together in the future!

So there you have it . . . the prequel that kinda/sorta explains how we got to the present day! Here I am today, a full blown running nerd. Oh, and for a bit more info on the schizo career path, I have ultimately decided against law school (sorry, Dad). Yeah. Instead, I am actually in the planning stages of getting myself back to school for Interior Design. I just feel that Interior Design is where my passion lies. While I could definitely make a great lawyer, I don’t think I’d love it nearly as much as I would Interior Design. When I’d originally thought of law as a career, I always figured I’d just do it until I had kids, and then my kids would be my ticket out. But Interior Design? That is something I can seriously see myself wanting to do forever. I’m currently in the process of sorting out grad programs and am hoping to get my applications submitted in time to enroll next January (weeeee!). ‘Til then? I’m just trying to magically speed up time by training for lots and lots of races (this works, I swear)! Oh, and I’m also trying to subdue (on a daily basis) my burning desire to Q-U-I-T my current job (at least until Nov/Dec rolls around). That’s a good one as well. I’m telling you, you’ve got to have goals, people!

Whew! Feel better? I sure do! That was a looooong one.

Well, I’m off to do a quick 3-miler. It looks absolutely gorgeous out there!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Swear, I Do Run!

In order to prove that I'm really a runner and I do more than just sleep and have cracked out dreams, I've decided I should probably catch y'all up regarding some actual physical activity "achievements" made this week. Here goes:

Monday was to be a "stretch & strength" day according to my temporarily-downsized training schedule . I headed to the gym and spent about ten minutes warming up on the stationary bike. I then lifted a whole lotta weights while trying not to drown--and that's hard to do, my friends! Ha, I guess a water main must have broken or something, because the ceiling was leaking EVERYWHERE on the floor the weights are on! The floor was seriously just a thick layer of wet towels and overflowing buckets. I'll spare you the boringly specific details of how many reps I did of what (mostly because I'm not smart enough to know what all of the machines/exercises are called), but suffice it to say that I still can't lift my arms above my head, and my legs are essentially dead (whoops--that probably won't help my "exhausted legs" situation much!). Oh, and I didn't drown, so that's good too.

By Tuesday, the gym was all dried up. I had a 3-mile "easy run" on the schedule, and completed said run on the dreadmill (have I mentioned how much I absolutely hate straight treadmill running? Hills/speed/tempo are one thing, but straight running? FORGET IT.) My hate for what I was doing combined with exhaustion from working until 10:00 p.m. and THEN attempting my run made for a slow-a$$ pace. But it WAS an easy run. So I'm not very worried. In the end, my three miles averaged out to a 9:50/mile pace. I had every intention of doing some core training as well, but um . . . the gym was closing (and obviously core training is the type of thing that can ONLY be done in the gym--ha). Plus, I was thinking that I probably needed to go home and eat/sleep (who doesn't love scarfing down food at midnight and then going right to bed, only to wake right up and do it all over again? WOOHOO! LOVE my job!).

So there you have it. On the schedule for tonight is a 30-min. tempo run and the core training I blew off last night . . . that is, if I ever get to leave work! But let's be optimistic here, people!

Hope y'all had a great Hump Day!

Get in Shape Girl, it's so appealing, Get in Shape Girl, you know the feeling!

And because Mallory requested it--

RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE DAY: I was just thinking about how like 92% of the kids I see on a daily basis are totally fat, and was feeling like maybe it's about time to bring back "Get In Shape Girl" (FYI, "Get In Shape Girl" was Irish Cream's very favorite Christmas present of all time--well, besides her Garmin, that is). Then I ran a quick google search and discovered . . . it IS back (see above)! Apparently they have a variety of different activity kits (what, like there's more than one way to get in shape?)--fitness, yoga (how tragically un-80s!), gymnastics--and also various smaller sets that focus specifically around stretching, weights and jumping rope. I might have to pick up a couple of these sets to use on CROSS TRAINING DAYS!! Oh, and guess what little Iris will be getting for her 3rd birthday, Mal? You know it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Salmon? Really?

Okay, folks. Get excited . . . because you have what I'm figuring is probably the longest blog in blog history coming up sometime in the next couple days! That's right. It's the Irish Cream Prequel! But hold your horses . . . it's not quite ready yet. In the meantime, here is an update that will prove that Irish Cream is probably at least a little messed up in the head (I swear, at least part of this has something to do with running)!

So 2 nights ago, my dream (most of which I've forgotten) went a little something like this. My BP girls (friends from college) and I were all visiting my friend, Laura, at her new house. While we were there, we somehow got roped into this Project Runway-esque type of a competition . . . only the rules were a little different. First of all, we had to use old clothes from a nearby Salvation Army as our fabric, and make an entire new wardrobe out of them. Second of all, the losers would be put to death. That's right, friends . . . they would be killed (this is another one of those "feel good" dreams, I guess). Now, in the middle of the contest (Laura and I were partners), Laura yelled something about the bathroom in her house--apparently we had to run back to her house to check on these dudes who were renovating her bathroom. So we got back to her house and everything had been fixed up, and we were totally pumped! That is, until we realized that we were losing precious time . . . and were probably going to die. We rushed back to the place where the competition was being held, just in time to see a couple of groups finish up their projects. We had hardly started and we were FREAKED! "Oh my gosh, we're both going to die!" We were throwing old Salvation Army clothing everywhere. AND THEN I WOKE UP.

Second dream--this time, compliments of last night! So I was going to my friend's party in the BK (Brooklyn), and on the way, I realized I was FAMISHED. I think I had just run earlier that afternoon (see--I told you this relates to running) . . . and I decided I'd make a stop at the golden arches on my way to the party (I don't know why--I don't even eat fast food). So anyway, I get to the McDonalds, and it's PACKED. People are pushing and shoving, and there is no semblence of order in place (kind of like the start of the L.A. Marathon--oooooh snap!). So anyway, I am trying to push my way up to the counter to order something, and suddenly I realize that I've wasted almost 45 minutes trying to get this crap food. This makes me livid because (obviously) I'm going to be late to my party! So I manage to get up near the front of the crowd, and I scream at the McD's workers, "I'm freaking hungry! I've been waiting for 45 minutes to order--what gives?!" The lady tells me to wait my turn, and that I should check back in 5 minutes. So I chill for the next 5, and then push my way back up to the counter, just in time to see this weird girl open up a mass of aluminum foil and toss it up on the counter. Inside, there is a big fillet of salmon, and she announces, "I'd like this grilled, please." I'm all WTF?!, but I am also seriously excited about the fact that I'm so close to getting to order. So I grab the next available cashier's attention and ask her if it's okay for me to order. She says, "Sure, but if you want anything hot, you're going to have to wait--we've got this huge piece of salmon cooking right now." I shoot salmon girl a nasty look, and ask the lady how long it's gonna be. "About 5 more minutes," she announces. So I wait my five minutes, and AGAIN head up to the counter, determined to get my food. "I'll have a number 2 with a diet coke," I announce. "I'm sorry, miss, but we're done with hot food for the night. You can have something cold if you'd like, but we're done serving hot food." I am beyond livid by this point. "But the other lady said if I waited 5 minutes, I could have hot food! UGH. What kind of cold items are available?" I ask. The lady names off a few salads. AND THE ALARM GOES OFF.

How weird are those on scale of 1 to 10? Ha. I can't wait to go to sleep tonight!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What has Irish Cream been eating?

Okay, I know I already posted once today, but I almost forgot to tell y'all about other crazy dreams I've been having as of late! First of all, I had one of those terrifying "jolt you awake and sit straight up in bed" nightmares the other night. I don't remember anything about the dream up until big sis, bro-in-law and I decided to go out onto some random and large body of water on a boat. Now, this is bizarre for a number of reasons. For those of you who don't know . . . Irish Cream don't do boats! There was an experience on a Greek tour boat a while back that made me realize I never want to step foot on a boat ever again (unless like some kind of ebola virus starts taking over the country and the only way to avoid having my flesh eaten is to take a boat to somewhere else . . . THEN, I'll consider it). At any rate, we were indeed on a boat. And let me tell you, we weren't on that boat for long before this HUGE tidal wave came crashing towards us. I woke up right before the thing swallowed us alive. I was sweating; I was petrified; I didn't want to go back to sleep, I was so scared!

Then, later that same night, I had this crazy dream where I had decided to go back to Notre Dame for some kind of graduate program. I was super excited to pretend like I was in college again . . . and had even been placed back in my old dorm (which is odd, considering grad students don't live in the dorms, but whatev). So I arrived back at campus, only to realize they had completely torn down and rebuilt a good portion of the campus. There were convenience stores and crappy restaurants all over the place, where the gorgeous quads used to be. Then, I took a look around me at the actual buildings; they had been replaced with these disgusting adobe buildings that were all painted really bizarrely bright colors. It honestly looked like something someone on acid would dream up--it was hideous. I was just sobbing and sobbing over what had been done to my school . . . I was horrified. I finally decided I should check in and find my room, but when I went to do so, there were all of these weird staircases I had to go up to get into the dorm. I finally found where I was supposed to go, and then I was told I didn't have the right identification and that I wouldn't be admitted for the semester. That's about all I can remember, but it was seriously weird.

Other than that, I keep having dreams about racing. Last night, I had one where I was running a half-marathon . . . don't remember much from it, but no wonder my legs were so tired when I attempted my long run this morning! They'd been running in my dreams all night long! Okay, this is starting to remind me of a bad pickup line I've heard, so I'm going to stop there with what is a bad joke anyway!

In closing, I can definitively say I must have the weirdest dreams of any human being alive (today). I think those sleep lab researcher people would seriously have a blast watching my brain while I'm sleeping. Oh, and I came up with a theory this morning . . . I think the people who have the weirdest dreams are the most creative. So yeah. Don't exactly have any research to back that up; I just kind of thought it made sense. So there you go.

Recap: Week One of Half Marathon Training; Also Known As, "What the Eff is Wrong With Me?!"

Hello, loyal readers (all two of you)! As promised, here is a recap of my first full week back in training. It started off pretty well, I have to admit . . . the end part of the week, though? Yeah. Not so good. Here goes:

3-mile "easy run" at 9:40/mile pace; strength training-arms.

Hills. The schedule read 6 x hills, but I decided to get creative . . . and by creative, I mean, I copied a Grete Waitz treadmill plan I found on the internet. 1 mile warm-up; then (at around a 10:20 pace--or about 45 seconds slower than my (old) 10k pace) 1 minute at 2% grade, 1 minute at 4% grade, 1 minute at 6% grade, 3 minutes recovery at 0% grade (repeated 3x); 1 mile cool down. In retrospect, this seemed far too easy . . . I was worried about freaking my legs out too early on, but now I'm thinking I really should have pushed the time, considering my "10k pace" came from a year ago when I was a lot slower than I am now. If I attempt this plan again, I'll probably go for between a 9:45/mile and 10:00/mile pace.

3-mile "easy run" at 9:38/mile pace.

40-minute tempo run was on the schedule, but I ended up working until almost 10 p.m. and was feeling a bit run down anyway. Thus, I ordered it a rest day.

Actual rest day.

3-mile "easy run" at about a 9:40/mile pace. On a side note, it was a seriously gorgeous day here in NYC! I got to wear shorts and short sleeves! Woohoo! I had been planning to do my long run of 90 minutes, given the gorgeous weather predicted, but was feeling seriously sluggish during my run and decided to swap Sat. and Sun. as a result.

Sunday: Okay, so here's where things went seriously wrong. Wilson and I set out for our respective long runs--he was going to run the first 4 miles with me, since that's what was on his beginner schedule--then I would continue on until I hit 90 minutes. Well, my legs had other plans. They were just ABSOLUTELY dead. I tried to run through it, but it was seriously crazy. I felt like I was back at mile 24 of the marathon! I started questioning myself and whether I was getting back into training too soon after my marathon. Um, well I guess that's probably a little bit true. In the end, I decided that if I at least finished the 4 with Wilson, I'd be keeping up with his schedule; so we both called it quits after running 4 miles at around a 10:10 pace. To punish myself for sucking (ha), I added to some core training to the mix back at home.

So now I'm left with the question of where to go from here. Do I drop to Hal's Intermediate schedule? Do I try to stick with the Advanced Schedule and just take it easy until I recover a little more? Do I forget the half-marathon altogether and run the 10K at Sunburst? UGH. I don't know. I really don't want to have to drop down to Intermediate, but I'm thinking that if I do, maybe I can just transition back into the Advanced Schedule when I start feeling stronger again. Thoughts?

Alright, and one more thing I've been needing to get off my chest. Since I finally have the forum to do so, I figure, why not?

This is a public service announcement for all of the a-holes in Prospect Park who feel the need to a) walk six abreast along the park drive, forcing me to pass their slow asses in a mess of bike and automobile traffic, b) dart across the street right in front of me when there is nobody behind me for MILES, c) pay no attention whatsoever to their devil children riding their crappy bikes all crazily in the direction of my shins, and d) pass me so closely that I can actually feel their breath on my neck when, once again, there is nobody within 500 yards of us: Um, yeah. Please die immediately. Thank you.

Enjoy what's left of your weekend, kids!

RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE DAY: For some reason, I really love the Reese's Easter Eggs. I would never buy the plain old peanut butter cups, but the eggs? That's a different story! Yum! I guess peanut butter filled chocolate tastes waaaay better when shaped like an egg!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Most Random String of Thoughts Ever . . .

For some reason, my ipod just really wants to play Queen today! During the 40 minutes I was on the subway this morning, 3 different Queen songs came on . . . first “Who Wants to Live Forever,” then “Bohemian Rhapsody (and that’s a long one, my friends!),” and last but not least, “Keep Yourself Alive.” For some reason, this brought back some really strong but random memories of being 14 years-old and on my way to the US Youth Soccer Regional Championships. I think my big sis, Mallory, must have been into Queen at the time, because I can remember listening to a lot of Queen on the drive down to Lexington, KY, where the tournament was being held.

That summer was one of the best and worst summers of my life all at the same time. My club soccer team had won our state cup championship, which meant we got to go down to Lexington to compete in the Midwest “Regionals” (each state champion played to determine the best team in the region). I’d been playing with the same group of girls since around age 10 or so . . . they were my best friends in the world. Since our club was kind of hard core about practice/training/etc., we spent most of our childhoods together. Well, a couple of weeks prior to Regionals, our coach had broken the news to us that he was going to split our team up the following year in order to try to create a “super team” of sorts—he would take the best of our age group and the best of the next oldest age group and form his new team. My teammates and I were absolutely CRUSHED. I can remember crying over this for days . . . that is, until my teammates and I seemed to come up with an unspoken plan, that I was sure would work. We, the NSA Rebels, decided the only thing we could do to keep him from splitting our team up was to WIN Regionals.

Now we were a very talented team, but we were by no means the best in the region. Still, it was SO important to us to win that tournament that we were going to find a way to make it happen. We honestly believed our a-hole of a coach would see how great we were and want to keep us together after all. We truly played our hearts out all tournament long and managed somehow to make it to the championship game. We would be facing the Ohio South champions . . . a team from Cincinnati we’d played (and lost badly to) on several occasions. In fact, the closest we’d ever come to them was losing 0-2. But we knew we had to pull out a victory that day. And damn it, we’d do anything to do just that!

I played defense for our team, and let me tell you, we were absolutely pummelled all game long. It was exhausting. Our goalkeeper and defense fought SO hard to stay close to those b*tches. Thinking back now, it’s hard for me to imagine that we were just 14 years old. The kind of courage and heart we showed that day was far beyond our years. We truly pushed the limits of what we thought possible of our bodies. In fact, it really reminds me of the Students Run L.A. kids I encountered during the Los Angeles marathon—and they were around the same age too.

At any rate, we managed to stay within one goal of our opponents, and with just a few minutes remaining, my friend/teammate Monica blasted a shot from pretty far out from the goal. Miraculously, it somehow made it past the other team’s ‘keeper and into the net. We were elated! There were just a few minutes left to go in regulation and we knew that if we held on through overtime, we’d get to challenge them in a shootout. We did it. We made it through the overtime periods without allowing a goal. The entire time, we just did anything and everything to keep that ball out of our goal, despite the fact that we were all beyond exhausted. It was time for pk’s (penalty kicks).

After nearly our entire team had shot, and the game was still tied, my friend Lindsay stepped up to take what could be the winning shot. Lindsay was probably the last person you’d expect to make a pk. She had a strong shot, but precision wasn’t exactly her strong suit. She was an unlikely hero, to put it bluntly. Still, we believed in her. My teammates and I held hands and said silent prayers, begging for her shot to go in. Amazingly, it did. We had won the Regional Championship and had beaten the b*tches from Cincinnati! We were elated and beyond exhausted at the same time. I can remember just sobbing for hours after the game. I was so wiped that I couldn’t even speak. I just cried and cried.

As it turns out, my coach did decide to be a dick-head despite the fact that my team achieved the impossible. Ha, I suppose it doesn’t take away from our tremendous achievement—we still get to say that, at one point in time, we were members of one of the top club teams in the country for our age. But still! What a jerk! Yeah. So I guess the moral of this story is . . . people are assholes. And lots of people take youth soccer WAY too seriously! And finally, “super teams” usually end up sucking way worse than the original kick-ass team did. Yep. All true.

Ah, memories! I know this post doesn’t really have anything to do with running, but it was on my mind and I felt like re-living that moment through my blog. This tournament ranks up there with my marathon finish in the book of the “proudest moments of Irish Cream.” That’s what I love about marathoning . . . that feeling of knowing you overcame some pretty crazy odds to do something few people ever will. Yay, marathons!

Okay, I’m done reminiscing. Tomorrow is my first long run on my half-marathon training plan (and Wilson’s first long run of all time—YAY! Go Wilson!), so instead of looking back, I’m going to spend the rest of the night looking forward and mentally preparing myself. I’ll report back tomorrow with the result of my first long run since the marathon (as well as a recap of my week, training-wise)! Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Happy Sick Day!

Confession time. As the title of this post suggests, I finally gave in and called out sick from work today. Am I actually sick? Technically, no. But when the alarm clock went off at 6 a.m., I awoke to a pounding headache. It seriously felt like somebody had bludgeoned the back of my head with a blunt object while I was sleeping. This coupled with the fact that I've been feeling a bit run down and tired since el maraton meant no early-morning 3-miler for Irish Cream. I told Wilson to go ahead and run without me, popped some painkillers and tried to go back to sleep for a while, hoping I could sleep the pain away. I woke up over an hour later and realized my head still kind of hurt.

Immediately, the thought popped into my head. "Should I call out from work?" Hmm. Whenever this question enters my mind, I go through the SAME EXACT ROUTINE. I argue with myself about the pros and cons of calling out . . . I start to write the email to my supervisor, then stop and delete it. I start to get dressed, then decide that even picking out clothes is "just too difficult" and go back to writing my email. Then I stress about the work that's going to pile up, and again try to dress myself. This awful cycle goes on until I realize that it's gotten so late that I'll be ridiculously late to work even if I go. Thus, I always do end up calling out. Why do I force myself to go through this routine every time I feel like crap? I don't know. I should really just write that email right off the bat and go back to sleep. Yet, I always seem to struggle with the thought of missing work (this despite the fact that I actually REALLY hate my job). Bogus.

So once I finally decided that work was out of the question, I decided it was time to pass out on the futon for a little sleepy time. I had a seriously crazy dream during this nap of mine. In my dream, all of the BP girls and I were running in this bizarre obstacle course marathon. I have no idea where it was supposed to be, but I distinctly remember that a decent amount of it took place in a mall. This aspect kind of pissed me off because they kept having us go up and down these escalators. Now, generally, I'd be all in favor of anything that MOVED MY ASS during a marathon. However, there were all of these people just chilling on the rides down/up and, damn it, I wanted to get past them! I also remember that there were a lot of distractions during the race. Like, at one point, we stopped to pose with some famous chick who was also running. I can't remember who it was now, but we were seriously excited to have our picture taken with her (that is, until the photographer proceeded to cut all of us out of the photo and just take a bunch of pics of the celeb--RUDE). For some reason, I also think we must have been lost or something, because we just kept on passing the mile-16 marker. Bizarre. And then at some point, I lost the girls because I had to stop to babysit for this rich couple's three kids (who all had seriously strange names--I'm almost positive one of their names was Timber). Yeah, I don't know. I finally woke up and was kind of pissed when I realized that I never actually finished the race. I tried to go back to sleep, hoping I could jump back into my dream and finish, but to no avail. Sadness.
Yeah, so that was random! I'm not sure what the dream means, but it certainly was crazy.

Well, I still have an "easy" 3-mile run to finish up this afternoon. I was supposed to do strength training today as well, but I always get freaked out about going to the gym when I've called out sick . . . like I'm afraid I'll see someone from work at the gym and they'll be all like, "wtf are you doing?" I guess I'll just have to do some legs work after my 40 min. tempo run tomorrow. Should be a blast.

On a not really related note, could daylight savings please die? I am getting seriously pissed about the fact that it's pitch black every time I try to wake up early and run OUTSIDE. ALL I WANT IS TO RUN OUTSIDE! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, can it start to be light outside at 6 a.m.? I live in Brooklyn! It's not safe for a girl to run in the dark!! And also, some actual warmth from the sun would be nice. Am I the only person who really hates looking outside, being tricked into thinking it's warm out, and then stepping foot outside and realizing it's still ASS COLD?

Okay, enough ranting for now. I've got the rest of a sick day to enjoy :)

RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Why am I still so obsessed with Pat Benatar? Wilson claims this is abnormal ...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Superfluous Goals

So with my first marathon behind me, people have begun asking the most predictable of all questions, "What's up next, Irish Cream?" Alright . . . so, maybe that's not entirely true. In fact, it’s a complete and total lie. I just wanted to make it sound like people are actually interested in my training goals! In reality, people haven't at all been questioning me about my plans for the future. Where are you, people? I've been waiting here, all excited to give you an enthusiastic response . . . but no, you have to go and keep the magic question to yourselves! In all fairness, I’m pretty sure many of the folks I know think running a marathon earns you some kind of golden ticket that excuses you from exercise for the remainder of your life. It's as though you can test out of your lifetime fitness requirements just by completing that one race.

Yesterday, brimming with excitement about the imminent start of my next great training plan, I decided to test the waters with a co-worker. If people weren't going to ask, I was simply going to begin volunteering the information to them. Co-worker's and my conversation went something like this:

Co-worker: "Wow, I just seriously don't feel like doing work today."
Irish Cream (way too animatedly): "Well guess what?! I'm running a half-marathon in May!"
Co-worker (baffled): "What?! Again?! Didn’t you just run a marathon?!"
Irish Cream: "Well, yeah. But this one's a HALF-marathon."
Co-worker: “So how long is a HALF-marathon?”
Irish Cream: “Just 13.1 miles”
Co-worker: “JUST 13.1 miles. Wow. When do you have to start training for it?”
Irish Cream: “Actually, I start today!”
Co-worker: “ARE YOU NUTS? Don’t you want some time to just . . . relax? I mean, you just ran A MARATHON!”
Irish Cream: “Yeah, well, no. Not really. I actually am kind of excited to get back into training mode.”
Co-worker: “What?! You are seriously scary.”

So there you have it. I am currently in training for the Half-Marathon at the Sunburst Races in South Bend/Notre Dame, Indiana. My college girlfriends (“the BP girls”) and I have all agreed to run in one of the races (they have everything from a 5k fun walk to a full marathon) . . . and it should be a blast. I really think it will be a special race for me, not only because my girls will be there, but also because it marks my one-year anniversary of getting into road races (I trained for and ran the 10k there last year).

Oh wow. I just realized I never really got into the background story of “why I run.” Ha, most people seem to start their running blogs with one of these stories, but seeing as how I started my own blog with a marathon race report, y’all don’t know my full story! Well, that’s another tale for another day.

On the sched for today? 6 x hills. Yes, hills. Have I mentioned that I’m training for this thing using an Advanced training plan? Cuz I am. Have I ever run a half-marathon before? Definitely not. Am I doing this with the hopes that I'll finish the race in under 2 hours? You betcha. Should be a good time, kids! Oh, and have I mentioned yet that I already know what's up next AFTER the half-marathon? Yeah, cuz I do. I'm starting to scare myself.

Until next time, happy running everybody!


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Pineapples are delicious. But I really don't get the name.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Irish Cream's Super Detailed 2008 L.A. Marathon Race Report

First things first. For some reason, a group of my college friends and I all have gotten really into running . . . specifically, marathoning. My friends Brent, Jon (who, for some reason, I insist on calling Jonny) and I agreed to run the L.A. Marathon on March 2nd. I was lucky enough to have quite a fan club with me in L.A. First of all, my boyfriend (Wilson) made the trip out to L.A. with me. Then there was my best childhood friend, Anna. Anna lives in Pasadena and had actually completed a marathon herself back in the fall. In addition to Wilson and Anna, nearly my entire family came out for the event. My parents were there, as well as my older sister (Mallory), her husband (Demetri), and my two year-old niece (Iris). The only person missing was my younger sister, Mo. Apparently, in all the craziness of planning the trip, we managed to overlook the fact that Mo was never actually invited to come out for the big race (oops! We're really sorry, Mo!)

On Saturday afternoon, Brent and Jon came to check into the Westin Bonaventure, where Wilson and I were staying (apparently they saw some logic in my bourgeois lodging plan). While they were checking in and getting settled, my family decided to check out the goods in the lobby gift shop. While we were in there, my mother somehow managed to chuck a snow globe across the shop, sending it shattering to the ground. A small child then proceeded to nearly die when he stepped right into the mess of blue, oily snow globe juice. My family was immediately thereafter kicked out of said gift shop. Luckily, there were about 30 other gift shops throughout the hotel (this place was a fricking metropolis -- it was like the Mall of America on crack) So, considering our little fiasco, we decided it might be best to put some distance between us and the hotel for a while. My parents, Wilson, Jonny, Brent, Kate (Brent's g/f) and Kate's friend Beth all met up and walked the mile or so over to the Convention Center for the expo. As one might predict, it was a complete zoo. The freebies were mediocre at best (maybe we arrived too late and missed all of the good stuff?), so after grabbing our bibs, t-shirts, goodie bags, etc. and doing a little obligatory wandering, we headed out. Jonny, Brent, Kate and Beth all headed to Mass; my parents, Wilson and I set off in search of bagels and bananas. Apparently you can't get such exotic items as bagels and bananas in downtown L.A. Who knew? After giving up on the idea of providing my own race morning breakfast, we stopped at a Rite Aid so I could stock up on a totally normal array of items--blue gatorade, aspirin, $6.99 throw-away pants, hair bands, sun block and big fat sharpies. We returned to the hotel with these provisions, I obsessively read every piece of information I could get my hands on regarding the race, and finally, I showered up for dinner. Brent, Jon, Wilson, Kate, Beth and I (and another one of Kate's friends--can't remember her name now) all went to eat at this Italian place a few blocks from the hotel. Although we had reservations, we stood waiting for a table for, I believe, like a half-hour. The poor people there seemed so flustered. It was like they couldn't figure out why their random little Italian restaurant in downtown L.A. was suddenly so crowded on a Saturday night! Anyway, they DID have a "special" 3-item menu for the marathoners, which actually sucked since those of us running felt like we were obligated to order from it (and we did). I got this whole-grain spaghetti with salmon, capers and roasted peppers in a garlic-olive oil sauce. It was pretty tasty, but I couldn't help but have a little food envy over Kate's friend's farfalle dish! I totally would have ordered it if I hadn't been suffering from runner's guilt! I also must mention that they also had some crazy good garlic knots at that place. We finished up, got the check and realized they'd forgotten to put Jonny's entree on it (sweet! Marathon special, indeed!) So, being the honest people that we are, we threw down some cash and busted out of there. On the walk back to the hotel, we walked right past the finish line. This prompted a very enlightening conversation about how it's probably a pretty good idea to just take off your shoe (with chip attached) and throw it over the finish line at the end of the race, in order to shave a few seconds off your time. We also discussed getting up in the middle of the night and pushing the finish line back towards mile-26, in an attempt to minimize the difficulty of the final .2. Sadly, it looked like there was some kind of security person posted at the finish line for the night (have people actually attempted to move the finish line in the past?!) We got back to the hotel, dared one another to jump into the crazy lobby fountains for $50 (no one accepted said dare--which is most likely for the best, considering my mother's earlier incident), and at last, we headed up to our respective rooms (or, well--Wilson, Jonny, Brent & I headed up to our rooms--Kate & Beth left to go out--HOLY JEALOUSY). I stopped by my parents' room on the way up to my own room, as my mother had informed me my father had a big pep talk planned for me (he ran the Chicago Marathon twenty-some years ago). I was actually kind of excited to hear what he had to say--my dad is quite the motivational speaker. So I got to their room, my mother opened the door, and . . . my dad was sound asleep in bed, despite the fact that it was only 9:00 p.m. (in all fairness, he was still on central time and had been sick with the flu for a while)! Ha. My poor mother looked like she felt really badly about it, and she actually went so far as to attempt to give me an awkward pep talk herself. It involved her pointing to my father and repeating over and over, "Look at him! If he can do it, you can do it! You two have the same mental makeup, but you're WAY more athletic!" She would then interrupt herself and be all like, "But, of course, don't be afraid to stop . . . that is, if you have to stop. There's absolutely no shame in stopping!" Ha, her spontaneous pep-talk was pretty inspiring, let me tell you (and by inspiring I mean hilarious . . . thanks for trying, Mom!). So with that, I went back to my room and laid everything out for the next morning. For the first time all day, I realized I was actually nervous. REALLY nervous, to be honest. As can probably be predicted, I did not sleep a WINK.

The positive thing about not sleeping is that it was pretty easy to roll out of bed at 5 a.m. I got dressed, drank some gatorade and attempted to force down an ($8) room service bagel (Damn you and your lack of suitable pre-marathon breakfast food, downtown L.A.!). Ha, it was the most expensive bagel I'd ever eaten, and also by far the most unpleasant! I was seriously just a nervous wreck. I finally gave up on the bagel with like 3 bites to go, and opted to just watch the news and listen to some power songs on my ipod (I'm sure our next door neighbors appreciated my early-morning rendition of "Here Come the Irish"--and yes, "Here Come the Irish" is one of my power songs! I'm a Notre Dame grad--what do you expect?!). I applied some body glide (but not the sun block I'd made a point of buying the previous day--brilliant), covered my feet in moleskin, threw my socks and shoes on, then my $6 throw-away sweats, took one last inventory of my gear . . . and was out the door!

Trying to get down to the lobby was a bit of an adventure, as there were runners trying to get on at literally every floor (I was up on the 22nd floor). Right as we got on, this older runner made a joke like, "Gee, there sure are a lot of people up early this morning!" This resulted in nothing more than a little nervous laughter. Ha, you could cut the tension in that elevator with a knife! Some other dude in our elevator car was complaining about how the elevator didn't stop at the 4th floor (you had to get off at 3 and walk up a flight of stairs to get to 4). It was kind of hilarious. One of the runners was like, "So I'm guessing you're not running the marathon today then?!" And the guy was like, "Me? Hell no! You're all crazy! I've never seen so many thin, fit people in my entire life!" So when we finally made it down to the lobby, Wilson and I met Jonny and Brent, and we headed to the start together on the metro (it was free all day for marathon runners). I tried to force down a banana (compliments of Jonny; not downtown L.A.) . . . and a little water. The metro ride was probably around 20 minutes or so . . . not too bad. Of course, there were those people who were just way too obnoxious and giddy for how early it was (and they all happened to be in the same car as us--very convenient). But Jonny, Brent, Wilson and I were all pretty silent during the trip over to Universal Studios. I made a point of sitting in a handicapped seat and suggesting that, while I wasn't yet handicapped, I most definitely would be in 4- 5 hours. Once we got to our final destination, we were emptied out into a scene that can only be described as mass chaos. We stopped by gear check, took a "before" photo of the three of us, and then attempted to get on line to use the porta-potties . . . ugh, what a disaster! They'd lined the things up on either side of this bridge, facing one another. There were too many people and not enough porta-potties; thus, the lines were totally indistinguishable. The best part of it was that everyone had to make their way through the porta-potty area to get down to the start. It was just a huge, messy traffic jam. We all managed to use the (seriously disgusting) facilities--Jonny and Brent were very impressed with my bring-your-own-tp to the start idea. After hitting up the potties, we parted ways with Wilson and attempted the crazy walk to the start. We arrived at the start line with about 5-10 mins. to spare. However, after looking around us, we realized there were a bunch of slower-looking individuals surrounding us. Thus, we jumped the barricades and headed a ways up toward the start line. Thank goodness we did this, because there was no organization whatsoever in place at the start--no pace corrals, no signs, and certainly no common sense being used! Even after jumping up a bit, we still had to deal with dodging some walkers at the start (why do people not seem to understand that if they are walking the entire race, they probably shouldn't be way up in front at the start of a race with 25,000+ people?)

So anyway, after maybe ten minutes worth of waiting (which seemed like FOREVER), the gun finally went off (or well, I'm assuming it went off--ha, we couldn't hear it where we were lined up). We were over the start line within about 8-9 minutes to the sound of Randy Newman's "I love LA." I remember thinking, "this is it!" as I crossed over the timing mat. I immediately let Jonny and Brent go, as they were FLYING (yay, fast boys!). The start of the race went uphill for a bit, and then the next few miles were a seriously steep downhill. I tried to keep my pace down as much as possible on the downhill (I'm sure my quads thanked me for this later), even though I really just wanted to fly. Luckily, it was pretty damn crowded and there was a lot of dodging walkers going on--this, although a little annoying, helped to keep my pace down. I stopped at the first water stop (even though everything I've ever read says not to), because I'd eaten a cliff bar shortly before the start and my mouth was D-R-Y! After I got the water in my system and got into a little bit of a rhythm, I felt my nerves calm a bit. I skipped the mile-3 water stop and coasted right through to mile-4 without much of a problem. Around mile-4, however, I started to notice goose bumps up and down my arms and legs . . . not good. I've suffered from severe heat exhaustion quite a few times in the past, and as a result, I think I tend to be a bit more susceptible to it than other people. In all honesty, I was freaked out when I started getting the goose bumps. I began stopping at all of the water stops and pouring full cups of water over my head, trying to keep myself cool. By mile-6, I was really beginning to struggle. I had full out chills, but I wasn't quite ready to give in and walk. I kept telling myself I just had to make it to mile-8 (Koreatown) and Wilson would be there with my gatorade. I figured I'd try to keep running until that point, then talk to him and gauge how dangerous it was for me to keep going. Well, I didn't quite make it. I'd been walking through all of the aid stations, and after the mile-7 aid station, I just kept on walking for probably a quarter of a mile or so. I was pissed at myself, but also seriously worried that my condition was so bad so early on. Luckily, after I cooled down a bit, I started running again, having only lost a few minutes. I made it to where Wilson was right after the mile-8 marker, and pulled over to talk to him. I told him how badly the heat was killing me and asked him what I should do. After seeing/talking to him, I decided that I should at least try to make it to mile-13, where my friend Anna would be, but that I should probably slow down and walk anytime my body felt like it was really overheating. I checked my Garmin, realized that I was only about five minutes behind schedule and suddenly felt a little bit better about the current situation. Wilson offered me some sun block, but I (stupidly) declined in an effort to save myself time. After taking a moment to drink some gatorade and take in the crazy Korean martial arts acts all around us, I continued on my way, telling Wilson to give my family a heads up that I'd probably be walking a lot more than I'd originally planned. I tried to keep my walking to a minimum, but man, was it hot! I totally cursed myself for training in the NYC cold all winter long and then throwing myself into a warm-weather marathon!

At any rate, miles 8-11 were kind of a blur . . . I ran when I could, walked when I had to. It was at some point during this time that I first noticed spectators handing out oranges. Thank God for that. The oranges seriously tasted AWESOME and provided me with a much-needed boost for a while. But again, shortly thereafter, I seriously started questioning whether it was smart for me to keep going. I really wanted to see my friend Anna . . . and I figured if I could make it to her somewhere near the half-way point, I could again gauge my situation. If I needed to drop out, I could . . . and we could use her phone to call my fam and Wilson to let them know. So I kept on with the goal of just making it to mile-13. Around mile-12, I began walking . . . a lot. I was just PISSED. I knew my goal time of 4:15-4:30 was so far gone, it wasn't even funny. I was having this crazy mental battle with myself. I would think, "This seriously sucks. My time is already shot. What's the point? I seriously don't want to have to tell people my time even if I DO make it to the finish! I am so embarrassed!" Then I'd pretty much yell at myself for thinking so negatively. I'd be like, "Bailey, you just have to finish. You could walk the rest of the race if you had to and still say you are a marathoner. You can do this!" Then it'd be like, "But they start opening the streets back up at a 13:00 pace. What if they kick me off the streets and I have to walk on the freaking sidewalk? That would be so humiliating! I'm totally going to have to drop out if that happens!" Then I'd start trying to do the math to figure out how long it would be until I'd get kicked to the sidewalk . . . which didn't go well, because I was in no state to be doing complicated mathematical calculations! Luckily, a couple of dudes dressed up like Elvis and pushing carts blasting Elvis music came up and passed me by. This made me laugh a little bit, despite the fact that I was so down. I realized that time didn't matter to them . . . they were just out there to have fun (I later learned that Wilson saw these guys near the start, pounding Miller Lites--haha--he took a pic of them). Shortly after my rather amusing Elvis sighting, we got to USC's campus. I can't believe I'm about to say this, but holy sh*t, was I happy to step foot onto USC's campus! I knew that mile-13 was somewhere inside, and I knew that Anna would be around there. I grabbed another orange from an awesome spectator, sucked it down, and then started running again. After about a half-mile, I crossed the half-way point. I was somewhere around 2:35, which was almost a half hour later than I'd expected, so I was just praying that Anna was still around! I kept running for a while, a little worried that she'd moved on, figuring she'd missed me. Finally, somewhere around mile-14, I saw her, Rob (her fiance), and her adorable puggle, Oliver. I stopped and chatted with them for a while. I played a little bit with Oliver and let him lick the orange juice off of my hands. Then after a minute or so, I continued on, with a new goal . . . this time, I just wanted to make it to mile-19, where Wilson and the rest of my fam would be waiting.

Miles 14-15 are again a bit of a blur . . . I'm sure I ran some and walked some more. At some point along this stretch, I witnessed a male spectator asking a female runner for her digits--and, much to my surprise, she actually obliged! The only other thing I really remember from these miles is a short exchange I had with a young girl. There were a ton of these tiny kids running with the Students Run L.A. (SRLA) program--we're talking like even 10-12 year olds. I was seriously amazed and inspired by the fact that these kids were out there, running the same course I was. I can remember thinking, "Wow. That's pretty impressive. I mean, I'm an adult! I knew what I was signing up for! These poor kids probably had no clue what they were getting themselves into!" And yet, these were some of the most focused, determined little kids I've ever seen in my life. There was one adorable little girl--she was probably 13 years old--who always seemed to wind up right around where I was. I'd seen her near the start with a couple of her friends who were also doing the SRLA program. At one point around mile 14-15 (long after she'd lost her two friends), she stopped to walk. At the time, I'd just started to run again. I moved past her and heard this tiny voice say, "Good job!" as I passed. I turned and thanked her and told her she looked great and that she was doing a seriously awesome job . . . but you could tell from the look in her eyes that she was really hurting. I have no doubt that she finished--the last time I saw her was somewhere around mile-24, and she was still fighting. It was pretty inspiring, to say the least. Around mile-16, I had some kind of a break-through, in that I finally decided to let myself have some fun with the race! I started slapping every kid's hand I could. I started paying more attention to the people/environments around me. I came up to a water stop and a young volunteer yelled out, "Hey Bailey (my name was on my bib)! You want some water in your face?" Ha, this really made me laugh. "Yeah, bring it!" I responded. I stopped and he threw the cup of water on my face and just cracked up like it was the funniest thing ever. As humorous as it was, it felt SO GOOD! This silly exchange gave me some energy to keep going. I made it to around mile-17, and started to get REALLY hot again. I slowed to a walk, and not too long thereafter, an older man--maybe in his early-mid sixties--came up and started talking to me. We walked together and chatted for a while. His name was Alan, and he normally finished marathons in 3:00-3:30. Apparently he'd run a half-marathon the weekend before, which he hadn't trained enough for. Then, he somehow let one of his friends talk him into registering for the marathon on Friday, despite the fact that he still hadn't recovered from the half he'd under trained for! So anyway, he'd started getting leg cramps around miles 3-4 . . . we commiserated for a while about the fact that we'd both started struggling so early on. We shared our game plans/goals for the remainder of the race. He mentioned how interesting it was for him to be more towards the back of the pack . . . and some of his observations about how there were so many people just having fun back there. We ultimately decided we were both just going to try to enjoy the rest of the race and to take everything in that we could. We chatted for about a mile--I kept thinking the whole time that I should start running again--but it was the first time I'd had company all race, and I was actually somewhat enjoying chatting with him and getting his perspective about the race. Around mile-18, he stopped at a medical tent to get some painkillers for his legs, and I took off running again. We encouraged each other to finish strong, and with that, we went our separate ways. Excited that I had just one mile to go before I'd get to see my family and Wilson, I tried to pick it up a bit, but by now, my own legs were starting to get pretty sore. I made my way to an area just before mile-19, where they had numbing spray, and decided I'd give that a try. The station was VERY popular, and it took a couple minutes before I actually got sprayed. Sadly, I don't think it even made a difference. Ha, in all honesty, the only thing it seemed to affect was my lungs! The volunteers were all wearing masks to avoid inhaling that crap, and although I tried to turn my head away, I still got some of that junk in my lungs. It was seriously gross! I managed to recover, continued on, and began searching for my fan club who was stationed just past mile-19. I stayed toward the left of the road, as Wilson had told me they'd try to plant themselves on the left-hand side.

As we got up around the Staples Center at mile-19, though, the crowds were REALLY thick. They had pushed up from the side of the road to the center island, so there wasn't much room for the runners to pass through. Complicating things further was the fact that there were a TON of people walking by this point. Thus, I was focusing so hard on trying to weave in and out of people within the small area we had to run, and on trying to find my family in the huge crowd of people lining the road, that I was probably using way more energy than I should have been. I didn't see them, but I heard my father's voice yell out, "Go Bailey!!" right as I passed them. I immediately stopped and doubled back, making sure not to crash into anyone. When I got back to them, everyone was there . . . Mallory, Demetri, Iris, Wilson, my Mom, my Dad. It was so overwhelming, and I was in such bad shape, that I just doubled over and began bawling. I tried to explain to my family and Wilson about the heat exhaustion, but I could hardly even speak at that point. Poor Demetri seemed so uncomfortable. He backed way up to try and give my family better access to me. And little Iris looked so confused! There was a moment of excitement/confusion as she saw me come running up out of the huge crowd, but then she looked absolutely terrified about the fact that her aunty B-B was bawling and doubled over in pain/exhaustion. As I'd made it to mile-19, there was no doubt in my mind that I'd finish, even if I had to walk the rest, but it was hard to leave my family and move onward. In addition, it was such a tease, knowing the downtown finish line was so close (it was within about a mile of mile-19--but we still had to go out over the L.A. River and back--ugh)! Luckily, Wilson (God bless him!) had changed into running clothes and dumped his backpack back at the hotel on his way to mile-19. When he asked me if I wanted him to run/walk with me for a while, I could not have been happier! We walked for a bit, and then ran for a bit. I tried really hard to remain positive, but my legs and hips were hurting pretty badly by this point, and I had started to get this awful pain in my middle back--it felt like someone was literally reaching into my back and crushing my vertebrae in their hands. It was awesome, to say the least! Around mile 20-21, this dude came out of nowhere, and just had the most incredible energy I've ever seen! There were people with hula-hoops on the side of the road, and damned if he didn't grab a hoop from them and start hula-hooping! He was having such a good time . . . I seriously just wanted to punch him! I was just like, "Why the hell are you so damn happy, buddy?!" Also around this point, Wilson questioned me about when the last time was that I'd taken a gel. When I responded that I hadn't taken one since mile-15, he suggested I try taking one for a little energy boost. For some reason, though, I decided it would take far too much work to open up my dorky fanny pack belt (yes, I wore a fanny pack--I'm bringing sexy back, baby!), remove a gel, tear off the top and suck it down. I pretty much decided that I was just done with gels--and never did take another one! Wilson let it go and we continued on, running when I could run, walking when I couldn't. I think the most I could run at one time by that point was a mile or so. Wilson convinced me to try running from mile 21 to 22, where we'd hit a steep uphill as we crossed a bridge over the L.A. River. I made it, we slowed to a walk, and as I looked around at people around me on the bridge, I noticed that EVERYONE was walking (except for these 2 dumb people who were running intervals, and decided to try to start running right as we hit the bridge--needless to say, that didn't last long!). Thinking I wanted to finish as soon as possible, I decided that for the rest of the race, if I was walking, I'd be speed-walking. I started focusing on trying to pass other walking people during my walk-breaks. When we finally made it over the bridge, we entered into a really industrial area. There weren't a whole lot of fans, and there was very little shade in the area (there was very little shade at all on the course . . . but for some reason, I really noticed the sun at this point). I started checking myself out to see whether I was sun burnt, and much to my surprise, I didn't see much (if any) sunburn going on! I was, however, REALLY starting to notice some nasty inner thigh chafing. I had body glide on at the start, but as the race progressed on (and I continued to run through fire hose spray to stay cool--thank you, L.A.F.D.!!), the body glide washed off and I was left with some not so nice thigh chafing. Bummer. I first noticed it around mile-18, but by mile-23, it was . . . uh, really noticeable. Luckily, since I was in so much pain otherwise, it wasn't quite as noticeable as it normally would have been. How's that for looking on the bright side? At any rate, around mile-23, I started to see a lot of runners on the side of the road, trying to stretch cramps out. I thanked God I wasn't cramping. I was in pain, but I wasn't cramping, and for that I was seriously grateful. Wilson let me make the calls as to when we'd run/walk, and for the most part, I think I had a pretty good system going. About halfway through mile-23, it was time to cross back over the L.A. River and head for downtown. Although I'd run quite a bit between 22 and 23, I suddenly realized this second bridge wasn't nearly as uphill as I'd expected it to be. In fact, it was pretty much flat. I also noticed there was an AWESOME breeze sweeping over the bridge. Thus, despite plans to walk the bridge, I told Wilson, "I want to run now." And with that, we took off. That bridge was honestly one of my favorite parts of the entire marathon. The breeze was such a welcome change from constant heat, and it felt SO great to be passing people again (for some reason, most people chose to walk this oh-so-magical bridge). Best of all, you couldn't beat the fact that downtown was back in sight! That was DEFINITELY a plus. So Wilson and I continued on, running some, walking some. I made the decision that I REALLY wanted to run the last 1.2 miles. Thus, I walked a decent part of mile-24, but once we hit mile-25, I took off, determined not to stop until I crossed the finish line. I made it probably 3/4 of a mile before I let myself slow to a walk again. I was just in so much pain, I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere, and I couldn't even SEE the finish line yet. In response, Wilson tried his hardest to encourage me to start running again. He kept on repeating, "You're almost there! You just have to make it to that white building, then you'll turn right at the Mile-26 sign, and you'll see the finish line! You can do it!" I think I asked him like five times, "Wait, which f***ing white building are you even talking about?" (haha, poor Wilson!) So finally, after maybe 20-30 seconds of walking, Wilson successfully talked me into running again. Once I got going, he asked if I was okay to finish on my own, and I confirmed that I was. He then ducked out just before the last turn onto Flower St. Although I was seriously tired, I just kept telling myself that the faster I ran, the sooner it'd be over. Finally, I made it to the "white building" (and the 26-mile marker). We turned right onto Flower St., and FINALLY, I could see the finish line with just .2 to go. Ha, once I saw that finish line, it was like somebody lit my ass on fire. I was SO excited for the race to be over with, I set off in an all-out sprint. I looked down at my Garmin at one point, and it was reading around a 7:35 pace--ha. My dead legs were flying! I must have passed 40-50 people in the last several hundred yards . . . it was ridiculous! The night before, I had thought a lot about what I wanted to do as I crossed the finish line . . . but now that the moment had arrived, I didn't even care anymore! I just put my head down and sprinted until I was across that finish line! Official finish time? 5:26:49.

Once I'd finished, I then followed the guy in front of me, in some kind of exhausted stupor. An adorable kid--probably only 8 years old or so--put my medal around my neck and said, "Great job!" Then I set off in search of some water. After what seemed like a lifetime, I finally found a volunteer with a case of water, and grabbed a bottle from him. I then grabbed a huge, ice cold cup of gatorade and chugged it. I blindly grabbed at various unknown food items as I passed them--a baggie of sliced apples, a few bags of animal crackers, a couple of boxes of raisins. Then, I attempted to make my way out of the finishers area. It was damn near impossible. After probably 20 minutes of wandering, I finally found a path through the spectators and just cut right out of the finisher area. I headed to the family meet up area, where Jonny, Brent and I had agreed to meet at letter "Q." I figured they'd probably headed back to the hotel, considering how fricking long I'd taken to finish, but I figured I'd check it out just in case. When I got to the area, I realized there was no letter "Q," just an area for letters "O-R." I headed up the street that was labeled as such. There were people EVERYWHERE. I walked all the way along the street (up a hill--totally awesome), until there were no more people. Then, just as I was about to turn back and try to figure out which direction the hotel was in (I seriously just had no clue at this point), I saw Mallory running at me. Ha, it actually startled me a bit! As it turned out, she, Iris and Demetri had randomly planted themselves at the very end of the "O-R" area (without knowing anything about the boys' and my plan)! Ha, it was so random that we just found each other in the crazy crowds! I gave Mallory and Demetri hugs (I'm sure they were super excited about this, as I was BEYOND disgusting), and then plopped down and pulled out the food. I was STARVING! Iris and I shared some apples and raisins--ha, we had a little picnic on the grass! So yeah, I pretty much sat there, and didn't move for quite some time. Eventually, my parents found us and congratulated me . . . then my mom set off to find Wilson (who had no room key, phone, etc., since he'd run with me--oops). Luckily, we'd made a backup plan to meet in the lobby of the hotel if we couldn't find each other in the family meet up area, so she was able to find him pretty easily. On her way into the hotel, she passed Jonny, and told him where we were . . . so before too long, along came Jonny, already showered! We exchanged stories, and decided that it was seriously the hardest effing marathon ever! While I'm sad to hear that Jonny suffered as much as I did, I have to say, it really made me feel a lot better! He and Brent both finished much later than they'd planned as well. It felt nice to know I wasn't alone in my misery! Ha, and speaking of Brent--apparently he just left pretty much immediately after he finished to drive to San Diego. He was going to go kayaking on Monday! I'd imagine he was probably on the road to San Diego before I even finished! Pretty impressive!

After we soaked up some rays for a bit (bad idea) and watched a finisher on crack attempt to climb a tree barefoot; Jonny, Mallory, Demetri, Iris and I headed back to the hotel. I was SO glad they were with me! It was totally ridiculous--I'd been back and forth between the finish line and the hotel at least ten times in the previous couple of days (the finish line was only a couple of blocks from the hotel)--but I just had no concept of where I was! When we got back into the hotel, we found my parents and Wilson sitting at a table in the hotel bar area. My parents had ordered some appetizers, and when they extended the offer of food to Jonny, Wilson and I, we jumped right on it! We all got huge bacon cheeseburgers and fries. Food has never tasted so good in my entire life! In fact, just the prospect of food was so exciting, that I completely forgot to call Anna, who was going to meet up with us after the race! Luckily, she knew which hotel we were in, so she stopped in and, after checking the place out a little bit, noticed my family was sitting in the bar area! It actually worked out really well, despite my own screw-up! We hung out, talked and ate. It was so nice to have everyone there together. I came to realize during our meal that I was actually pretty badly sun burnt--oops--I probably should have taken Wilson up on that sun block offer back at mile-8! Ha, Jonny and Wilson kept commenting on how slowly I eat . . . I think both of them had finished eating before I'd taken even three bites of my burger! Although I'm usually a really slow eater, I was extra slow because I was just so tired. I got too tired to continue eating long before my stomach filled up, so I passed my (cold) fries over to Jonny to finish up for me! Ha, I think he probably could have eaten another entree, he was so hungry! Finally, after we'd all eaten and hung out for a bit, we went our separate ways. Anna, Rob and Jonny headed back to their respective homes, and the fam and I headed up to our rooms. I took a cold shower and lounged in the hotel bath robe for a while before putting my pajamas on and climbing into bed. Wilson and I plopped down on the oh-so-comfy king-sized bed and turned on that "World Trade Center" movie (random, I know). I fell asleep before the end, woke up as the credits were rolling and begged Wilson to go buy me some aloe vera, as my sunburn was KILLING ME (My shoulders and back were BRIGHT red)! He brought back some aloe lotion and assorted goodies--Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies, strawberry frozen fruit bars, gatorade, orange juice, apple juice . . . even a PBR tall boy! We chowed down and then finally gave in to our exhaustion and went to bed.

In retrospect, I am really proud of my accomplishment. I think I am so much of a competitor, that it was difficult for me to deal with the fact that I was SO far off of my goal time. But luckily, there were a few people along the way who really helped me to keep things in perspective. I think there were a lot of lessons learned that day . . . and I'm glad that one of those lessons was the idea that you can't take a marathon for granted. That's what's so exciting about the sport. You never really know what to expect come race day. As much as you train and dedicate your life to the sport, it can really catch you off guard at times! I think it was important for me to learn that early on in my marathon-running career (ha, look at me planning a whole "marathon-running career!"). Given the conditions and the difficulties I had with heat exhaustion that day, I'm really glad I persevered and crossed that finish line (and didn't die!). The time doesn't matter. I know I'll forever have the memories of sharing that first marathon with so many people who are so important to me, and that's pretty cool to think about. Plus, there's always next time. I'm only 25 (or well, almost 26 now) . . . there are plenty of marathons left to run!

Additional photos to follow . . . whenever Mallory gets around to sending them to me!